US Homeland Security to induct more UAVs for border surveillance

US Homeland-security officials have said that they will expand the use of drone aircraft for surveillance activities over the country''s borders, as key tools in their border strategy. Their affirmation of the use of drones comes even as a safety investigation highlighted a string of errors in the crash of a $6.5 million Predator B in Arizona last year.

The US Customs and Border Protection operates two Predator B drones near the Mexican border, from Fort Huachuca. By the end of 2008, six of these drones are expected to be flying along the northern and southern borders of the US, with three of them being based in Arizona.

The agency said it will forge ahead with its plans to introduce more UAVs despite a National Transportation Safety Board finding this week that human error caused the April 2006 crash near Nogales. It was the first crash of a UAV on domestic soil.

The customs agency said it agreed with the findings but considers the operation of these UAVs essential.